Two useful words for public speakers

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 12:51 Written by Pam Chambers Monday, 22 July 2013 02:55

My public speaking students ask lots of good questions. I am amused by how often the most accurate answer is: “It depends.”

Q: The other day I was giving my committee report at the Board meeting. One of the Board members got up and headed for the door. What should I have done?

A: It depends. If this had been the Chairperson of the Board I might not have said anything, hoping that he or she would return promptly. It also depends on whether you needed a quorum in order to make decisions. Sometimes it’s OK to let people leave. Other times, it is not. It depends.

Q: Next week I will be giving a presentation on emerging global markets. I know that an expert will be in the audience. Should I call on that person, or should I hope he stays silent?

A: It depends. If you can trust that this expert won’t go on and on, I would find a way to use him. But if you can’t, I would ask him yes/no questions only and praise him generously for his presence.

Q: Pam, I heard you tell a story about employees who had to stay overtime to listen to you speak about customer service. They would be allowed to have a beer after you were finished speaking. You told us that you cut your talk short. Should you have done that?

A: It depends. Would I lose my audience if I spoke for 45 minutes? Yes. Would my client be satisfied if I spoke for only 30 minutes, and stuck around to mingle? In this case, yes.

In public speaking, as in many other activities, the answer to the question is, “It depends.” That’s when your wisdom is called forth!

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